So you’re finished weaning – now what should you do with your breast pump? The answer depends on whether you think you might use it again for another child, or whether you’re sure that you’re done pumping forever. Here’s what to do with an old breast pump when you’re finished pumping.
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What to Do with an Old Breast Pump
There are a few things that you can do with your old pump:
- Store it for a future baby
- Sell your breast pump
- Donate your breast pump
- Recycle the pump
Here’s more information on each of these options.
How to Store Your Breast Pump for a Subsequent Baby
If you plan on having another child – or even if you aren’t sure if one more baby is in the cards – it’s a good idea to keep your pump.
You can get a new pump through insurance with each baby, but having an extra pump can be really useful to have as a backup. For my second and third babies, I had two pumps and was able to leave one at work – it made my commute a lot easier with not having to lug the pump with me every day.
Here’s how to pack up your breast pump to keep it in good condition for use in a few years.
- Clean your pump and all your pump accessories that can’t be washed (such as your charger, car adapter, etc.) by wiping them down. (Medela Quick-Clean Wipes can be useful for this.)
- Sterilize all of your pump parts and bottles, and then let them air dry.
- Once they’re dry, put them in gallon sized Ziploc bags or plastic containers for storage.
- Put everything in a bag and, if possible, store it someplace that is at least somewhat temperature-controlled. So, if you have the choice between your drafty basement or a garage that gets really hot in the summer, your best bet is the basement.
When you’re getting ready to use the pump again, I would suggest washing and sterilizing the pump parts and bottles that you plan to reuse.
Then, you can compare the level of suction from the new set with your old pump parts. This way you’ll be able to tell by comparing the level of suction if your old parts aren’t doing the job anymore. (Old pump parts sometimes do work just fine and it’s good to have lots of sets, so if they’re working, you’ll want to keep them.)
How to Sell or Donate Your Breast Pump
If you are done with your pump forever, selling your used breast pump – or donating it – may be an option. However, used pumps should only be reused by another individual when they are a closed system pump. If you have an open system pump, you should not sell or donate your used breast pump.
Closed system pumps have a barrier between milk and the pump motor, while open systems do not. It’s not possible to sanitize an open system pump, even if you buy all new tubing and parts.
How do you know if your pump is an open system or closed system? I’ve included a partial list of popular pumps below, but your best bet is to call the pump manufacturer and confirm with them.
Note that even if your pump is a closed system, most pump warranties won’t cover anyone but the original owner. It’s a good idea to make sure that the new owner understands they’ll have to buy a new pump if their used one breaks.
A common question is whether or not places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army will accept used breast pump donations. Most charitable organizations will not accept even closed system pumps, as there are liability concerns with personal medical devices. You might have better luck offering your pump for free on Craigslist or Freecycle to a mom who needs it. You can always call and ask, though.
You can also try a buy/sell/trade Facebook group.
How to Recycle Your Breast Pump
If you’re not able to sell or give away your pump when you’re finished with it, recycling it may be an option. Some breast pump manufacturers – including Medela and Hygeia – have pump recycling programs.
The way Medela’s program works is that you request a shipping label, and then you ship your pump and charger (not your pump parts) to Medela. (You still have to pay to cover the shipping; the label just has the correct address and your confirmation number.) Then, they have a third-party provider break down the parts and recycle whatever they can.
In most cases, a manufacturer will only recycle their own pumps. If your pump manufacturer doesn’t have a recycling program and you think they should, call or email them! Medela’s program got started through a petition.
What about Spectra breast pump recycling? Spectra suggests that you recycle your old Spectra pump by taking it to an appliance or PC recycling center. That might be an option for other non-Spectra pumps without a recycling program.
What have you done with your old breast pump when you were finished pumping?
You might also like:
- How to Wean from the Pump
- Transitioning Your Baby off of Breast Milk
- My Experience Weaning from the Pump
- Kellymom. “What should I know about buying a new or used breastpump?” https://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/buying-a-used-or-new-pump/
- Medela. “Frequently Asked Questions.” https://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/faqs#medela-recycles